I’ve encountered well-meaning Christians who ask why I don’t pray for God to make me straight, as unlikely as it is. After all, if God can do anything, shouldn’t I pray that he will provide me with new desires?
While I agree that we should pray for the grace to resist temptation, this is not a prayer I will be adding to my prayer rule for multiple reasons.
- Not all aspects of my gayness are broken.
My orientation encompasses far more than a desire for another man’s genitals. This is really easy for us to understand when it’s a straight Christian talking. Think about a man who sees a good-looking woman walk into a coffee shop he’s sitting in. He thinks to himself, “Wow, she is beautiful.” It doesn’t mean he is lusting or that he’s viewing her as a sexual object. Or take the example of a husband talking about how beautiful his wife is. If you immediately think he is talking about his sex life, then you probably need to get your mind out of the gutter!
It’s the same for my gay orientation. I can find a man beautiful and spiritually life-giving. I can love other men and develop physical and emotional intimacy through deep, abiding friendship. I may be attracted to another man, even in virtue of his maleness, because maleness is an inherently good component of God’s creation. Not every aspect of attraction between two men or two women is sexual. The folks at Spiritual Friendship have done a good job at pointing out that when we reduce same-sex attraction to mere genital desire, then our view of humanity is far more Freudian than Christian.
A traditional sexual ethic as taught in communions like the Roman Catholic Church, would see same-sex attraction as “disordered” or “fallen” *inso-far as it relates to the desire for sexual intercourse with other people of the same-sex*. But attraction is more comprehensive than that. The aspects I mentioned earlier of beauty and connection are the central part of my orientation and how it affects my life, not male genitalia.
- Heterosexuality isn’t the same as holiness
Setting aside the gifts of deep same-sex love I have uniquely experienced as a gay Christian, heterosexuality wouldn’t change much about my life anyway. Being straight doesn’t seem to help believers stop lusting, watch porn, or fornicating with the opposite sex. Jesus requires that every human being looks at another person as a fellow image-bearer; He doesn’t require we develop sexual feelings for the opposite sex.
We should never look at another person as an instrument designed for sexual pleasure. Yet, it’s abundantly evident that heterosexuality is not the method the Holy Spirit uses in enabling believers to achieve the fruit of self-control.
Straight people don’t really have to spell out this stuff, making precise theological distinctions on what is a fallen or holy desire like I’m doing now. Straight orientations are considered the default. As an aside, it’s quite frustrating l even have to do this, because not all of us are theologians.
Do gay people have broken sexualities? Yes! But so does everyone else. The Church should reconsider asking LGBT+ people to pray for things they aren’t asking of straight people, especially when it’s not a requirement for holiness.
Being gay isn’t my central identity. Yet, it’s undoubtedly had an impact on nearly every aspect of my life. If I was straight, I wouldn’t be me. When you desire for me to be straight; the implication is that I’m so profoundly broken and incapable of holiness as a gay man.
- It’s the wrong prayer
I would love to see Christians corporately and individually praying for repentance for the mistreatment of LGBT+ people. I would love for believers to digest the work of gay theologians from whom they can gain wisdom. I hope and long for a Church that sees love as something every Christian is called to, not just straight married folks. We should lament when church leaders ignore the unique needs of LGBT+ people in order to fully participate in the Kingdom of God because they think the Church would be better off 100% heterosexual.
I don’t view my gayness as a disability, but let me give you an analogy: A woman in a wheelchair has no way to access your church because there’s no ramp through the entrance. Is your response to tell the woman she needs to pray that God let’s her walk again? After all, disability is a result of a fallen world, you might say. Of course not. Your church should accommodate her need by building her a ramp.
Could God make me straight? I suppose He could, just like He could supernaturally allow the disabled woman to walk. Yet the most pressing prayer for the Church is loving people as they are and ensuring every vocation outside of marriage is cherished.